Jarryd Hayne Faces Civil Proceedings for Sexual Assault

by Sonia Hickey
Jarryd Hayne

Former NRL golden boy Jarryd Hayne was found guilty earlier this year of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, also known as ‘sexual assault’ under the law, during a retrial which occurred after an initial jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Now, the woman found to be his victim has commenced civil proceedings against the former star, seeking compensation for the damage caused by the assault.

The second jury found Mr Hayne guilty of sexual assaulting the woman at her Newcastle home on NRL grand final night in 2018.

The same jury found him not guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault – the alleged aggravating factor being the infliction of actual bodily harm.

Minimum term of sentence

Mr Hayne is currently serving a minimum prison term of three years and eight months at Cooma Correctional Centre, which is approximately 400 kilometres south of Sydney.

At the time of Mr Hayne’s sentencing, the young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court in a victim impact statement that she was deeply traumatised by the incident, and that it continued to impact her mental health.

Full term of sentence

District Court Judge Helen Syme sentenced Mr Hayne to a total of five years and nine months behind bars, remarking that his conduct amounted to an extreme form of violence which the community expected courts to take very seriously.

“The offender was fully aware that the victim had not consented and went ahead anyway and forced a sexual act on her,” her Honour remarked.

She added that the woman’s express refusal increased the seriousness of the crime.

“The reliability and honesty of the victim’s evidence was tested at length and in my view, her reliability was not in doubt. She said ‘no’ several times,” Judge Syme stated.

“The use of force was such that the victim had no prospect of stopping him physically.”

“He was at least twice her weight at 100 kilograms and an athlete at the top of his form.”

The judge noted that Mr Hayne only stopped the attack when the woman started to bleed, not when she was telling him ‘no’ and ‘stop’.

Civil proceedings

The civil claim, which has been filed in the NSW Supreme Court, is unlikely to proceed until after Mr Hayne’s appeal against his criminal conviction is finalised.

Mr Hayne has always steadfastly proclaimed his innocence, and his appeal to the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal (NSWCCA) appeal is due to be heard in November 2021.

However, there are concerns it may be delayed due to the current court backlogs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous legal troubles

Mr Hayne was pursued in the United States civil courts by a woman known only as JV,  who alleged he sexually assaulted her in 2018 when he was playing for American football team, the San Francisco 49ers.

Investigating police ultimately found there was insufficient evidence to criminally prosecute Mr Hayne.

Instead in 2017, the complainant commenced civil proceedings against the football star for sexual battery, battery, gender violence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Mr Hayne settled the case in 2019 for an undisclosed sum of money.

Civil proceedings

People initiate civil proceedings for a range of reasons reasons, including contractual disputes, in a bid to recover debts, or to seek financial damages for personal injury, false imprisonment or malicious prosecution (including against the police), or defamation of character.

The court or tribunal in which the claim initiated depends on the type of the claim itself as well as the amount of money that is sought.

Civil proceedings are often commenced by way of what’s known as a Statement of Claim.

Monetary jurisdiction in the courts

The Small Claims Division of the Local Court of New South Wales hears civil claims and debts of $20,000 or less.

The General Division of the same court deals with claims which are more than $20,000 up to $100,000 (or $120,000 in certain situations).

The District Court of New South Wales hears claims above the Local Court’s jurisdiction, up to $750,000 while the Supreme Court hears claims above $750,000.

If you are considering commencing civil proceedings, or are put in a position where you need to defend them, it is important to seek legal advice from a law firm that specialises in civil cases.

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Author

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

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